National squash player Delia Arnold (right) in action against Habiba Mohamed of Egypt in the qualifying match of the recent Women's World Championship in Penang. - Filepic
PETALING JAYA: It should be the happiest time of her life, but national No. 3 squash player Delia Arnold is in the doldrums despite recently tying the knot.
The 28-year-old Delia, who recently married former national badminton player Robert Lin, admits to facing a slump in form which has affected her confidence.
She only made it past the first round of four tournaments from a total of 13 last year.
It does not help that her recent defeats have been to a girl half her age. Delia lost to 14-year-old Egyptian Habiba Mohamed in the Malaysian Tour (SSJM) Grand Finals last November and again in the qualifiers of the 29th Women’s World Championship in Penang two weeks ago.
With several major team events this year, namely the Asian and World Team Championship and the Asian and Commonwealth Games, the pressure is on Delia to regain the form that brought her to a career high of No. 20 in 2010. She’s now ranked 40th.
Realising that she has to pull it together for the big meets, the KL-based Delia has decided to withdraw from two events - the Women’s Squash Week from April 3-6 in Calgary, Canada, and the Emerson RC Pro from April 9-13 in St Louis, US, in order to focus on her training.
“I am really struggling quite a bit because my training has been rather on and off recently,” said Delia.
“The main problem now is my confidence ... I’m really on a low right now. I think what I need is to rebuild and regain my confidence when I go on court.
“That is why I made the decision not to go for the two tournaments. This will give me five to six weeks of solid training and I hope to be back in good shape when I return to competitive action in May.
“I know it’s a big year and it’s not ideal to pull out of tournaments but I really need to return to the way I was playing previously in order to help Malaysia in the team events.
“Previously, I was working with Mubashir (Gul) but he has left for the US, so I’m now training under Peter (Genever). So far it’s good, but I feel that there is a lack of sparring partners for me.
“I’ve also started a programme under a sports psychologist earlier this year and hopefully it’ll help me regain my confidence,” added Delia.
Barring any injuries, Delia who competed in the 2010 Asian Games, is expected to slot into the Malaysian team as the third-ranked player behind world No. 1 Nicol David and world No. 7 Low Wee Wern.
The battle for the fourth member of the team will be decided via a selection trial, and it will likely come down to either Zulhijjah Azan, Rachel Arnold, Vanessa Raj or Teh Min Jie.